Posted in himalayan resort, himalayan river, himalayas, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, karkotak peak, north indian, resort, river kalsa, the lesser himalayas, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, trek, trekking, Uncategorized, uttarakhand, wooden bungalow

Digital Detox Retreat in the lap of Himalayas

First of all, thank you to the very talented and resourceful organizers at The Transforming Travels for organizing this unique experience in the midst of nature. Chandni Aggarwal and Mihir Panda, you people deserve a salute!

So how about a calming trip with least use of your digital devices, comfortable stay at a colonial bungalow with wooden interiors, surroundings that speak organic nestled in the lap of Himalayas and amongst gleeful people who share your passion for travel.

Departure

We were picked up from Mandi House metro station, Delhi at around 10:30pm in a tempo traveller with flexible chairs that did not give your backs a resounding ache. We departed straight to Haldwani through Hapur with occasional stops in between.

Arrival – Day 1

The village in which we were going to stay for the next 1.5 days was an hour and a half drive away from Haldwani and was called Khatauni village. A light shower greeted us at Haldwani with the soothing shade of deciduous trees protecting us from a heavy spell. First time in Haldwani – too good!

We reached the Silent Valley Resort near Kalsa river at 8:30 a.m. and were warmly welcomed by the owners who showed us the bungalow cum house with rooms that exuded the old world charm.

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A delicious breakfast followed in the lap of coniferous trees and the wild twittering of birds. How delicious it is to move away for a few days from the city and enjoy a raw unhindered experience of the mountains.

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We were so hungry that when it came to clicking the picture, the quantity of every item was substantially reduced.

After a few hours rest, we went for a short downhill trek towards the river Kalsa. The dried pine leaves occasionally give you a surprise slip but the pleasant s walk in the shade of the towering flora makes you forget them.

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We also saw the organic farms in the vicinity of the resort where organic peas, cauliflower and other vegetables were growing and the workers engaged in their routine work rituals. We were warmly welcomed by the hosts to savour the fresh green peas from the farm and needless, to say, they were sweet and mellow.

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Organic farm

The flow of the river Kalsa was moderate but care should be taken while crossing the banks as the rocks are quite slippery. I was slightly careless and slipped quite a few times. In one such incident, my Ray Bans went into the flowing waters and I had to hanker along to get them back from the clutches of Kalsa.

Sitting on the rocks at the Kalsa river is a therapy in itself. The cool environment and the music of the gushing water transforms you into a blissful state.

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After returning from our sojourn, we were greeted with a delicious and humble home cooked meal of chappati, masoor dal, sautéed potatoes and okra. All the ingredients are organic and grown in the family’s farm itself. What a joy it is to eat a home cooked meal away from home!

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After this delicious lunch, I preferred to sleep in my vintage room for four hours! The cool surroundings with the comfortable environment of high ceiling roof and woody interiors aided in a relaxing nap.

Day 2

We were greeted with a heavy downpour which lasted two hours. The breakfast was shifted to the indoor wooden dining area while savouring the beautiful Himalayan rainfall.

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We geared for our trek to the Karkotak peak while leaving our main luggage behind which would be taken to Bheemtal by our traveller. The trek started after the crossing the Kalsa river and the initial terrain was simple and levelled. Gradually the trail started involving pebbles and dried pine leaves with breath taking views of the surrounding villages and the mountains.

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Some views would definitely remind you of those old Bollywood numbers when the protagonists get lost in some coniferous forest.

For me, this easy trek was difficult because of my ankle inflammation and the knee injury sustained a day before. I was always the last one in the group, so at times, it got frustrating. Those 8.5km seemed like a lifetime because of the slower pace of my legs and continuous drizzling but after reaching the peak, those two aspects were readily forgotten.

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The Karkotak peak is situated at an elevation of around 1700m and a clear pristine view of the Bheemtal and Nauchekital is clearly visible. You will spot some local kids playing merrily around the temple area and you will slightly wish to be amongst them.

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The descent was easier and we met many local villagers there and enjoyed clicking a few pictures in the tall mountain grasses. An hour’s rest at a local guest house and an hour’s hangout at a pub made us forget the tiredness of the trek.

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Special thank you to all the fellow travel mates, who made this trip unforgettable.

Picture credits to Divyajeet, Gaurav and Mihir Panda.

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Posted in babaganoush, blueberry cheesecake, butter garlic sauce, cacic, cheesecake, chicken, chicken shish touk, delhi, dessert, fatayar, food, food blogger, gluttonyguilts, grilled prawn, grilled salmon, hummus, lebanese platter, mashed potatoes, meat fatayar, mediterranean cuisine, mezze platter, nonveg mezze platter, olive hummus, pan seared prawn, prawn, salmon, shish touk, tabbouleh, things to do in delhi, tiramisu, Uncategorized, zataar chicken

Laidback Cafe, M block market, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi

Laidback café by the World of Shalom should be on your list if you want to experience authentic Mediterranean/Lebanese dishes with a comfortable ambience. The menu is extensive, though, covering continental as well as Asian dishes in which the restaurant excels as well. I had an unforgettable experience at this place and here are a few dishes that I tasted:

Non veg mezze platter: First, you dig into the succulent Zata’ar chicken which has a very thin crusty exterior and the lovely taste of tangy Zata’ar spices. Second, you bite the meat fatayar which is a fried fluffy envelope of finely minced lamb – the aroma of Mediterranean spices is extremely inviting. Third, you gorge upon the juicy chicken wings and get your hands dirty in the spicy tangy mixture. Fourth, the fine textured hummus, the creamy babaganoush, the healthy tabbouleh and the sour cacic go well with the meaty dishes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Shish Touk – If bulky boneless pieces with the characteristic tanginess could be this soft is hard to believe. The well grilled capsicum and tomatoes have imparted their juiciness to the chicken and when the skewers are served with  sour salad of perfectly julienned bell peppers, onions, cabbage and tomatoes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Rubiyan Mishwi: Pan seared prawns in garlic butter sauce is every sea food lover’s dream appetizer. But when those prawns have a creamy melt in the mouth texture with no foul aroma, you can not stop your self at just one. Coupled with a light onion, tomato and bell pepper salad with an occasional bite of chopped garlic, this dish is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Grilled salmon in Buerre blanc sauce: One bite will not be enough, trust me! The salmon is grilled to perfection with chewy interiors and slightly crusty exterior and topped with a white whine and butter based Buerre Blanc sauce which has a creamy texture and moderate consistency. And let us not forget the smoothest potato mash with aptly grilled vegetables drenched in a light tangy dressing with the European herbs and you have a winner of a dish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Tiramisu: The perfect tiramisu gone slightly haywire because of the excess use of coffee powder on the top which lent a slightly butter flavour to the ensemble. RECOMMENDED.

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Blueberry cheesecake: The best cheesecake till date! This was not baked which was an added bonus because the soft chocolate base complimented the utterly mellow cheesecake with embedded blueberries. And the icing on the cake was the blueberry sauce with real mashed blueberries adorning the top. Why did I finish this? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Laidback Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bao, basil, betel leaves, bhaajhi, black rice, broth, coffee, delhi, dumpling, dumplings, food, food blogger, gluttonyguilts, hummus, kale, kebab, kulfi, lemongrass, minestrone soup, olive hummus, paan kulfi, pokchoy, pokchoy dumpling, progressive asian, pumpkin, quinoa, Salad, soup, sweet potato, thai green curry, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

Kiara soul kitchen, M block market, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi

A hard core non vegetarian can, on some days, relish an all vegetarian menu with the dominance of vegan specialities. Yes folks, I did the sin of this unusual gluttony and enjoyed every bit of it.

Kiara is focussing majorly on healthy meals which are calorie counted by a nutritionist and whose ingredients are sourced from organic farms. The chefs are not using an artificial flavours i.e. no ajinomoto and no MSG. All their sauces and gravies are prepared in house with the freshest ingredients and while tasting their delicacies, you can gauge that.

Assorted breads with hummus: More than the breads, I would like to talk about the three flavours of hummus here. The olive based regular hummus was good with a fresh grainy texture and slight hints of roasted cumin. The fennel based one is an innovative take on regular hummus with the humble hints of fennel powder and leaves. The last one was the apple and walnut hummus with zata’ar powder in it. The sweetness of apple perfectly compliments the grainy texture of crushed walnuts. The breads, particularly focassia and multi grain bun, could have been better although the pita bread deserves full praise. RECOMMENDED.

Quinoa and kale salad: This simple yet flavourful salad combines two super foods – quinoa and kale leaves. Full marks to the plating style – the salad is carefully placed in a glass bowl and adorned with broccoli in the flower petal style. The texture of the salad is crunchy due to the presence of onion and purple cabbage with the chewy softness of quinoa. The chilli dip with which the salad is served is one of a kind – silky texture with the goodness of sesame seeds and coconut milk. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Indonesian Minestrone soup: The soulful flavours of tomatoes, barley, coconut milk and sriracha sauce (made in house) made into a “shorba” style soup with the added benefits of mellow zucchini and mushroom. This soup is healthy and has a lovely creamy texture. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Basil and bean broth: Boiled beans along with finely chopped bell peppers and basil drenched in a light watery broth fashioned from dehydrated mushrooms and soya is your go to dish when you wish to have some thing light and healthy. And let us not forget the slight tangy hints in every drop. RECOMMENDED.

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Pokchoy Dumplings: A creamy mixture of chopped water chestnuts, mushrooms and carrots enclosed by a tiny pokchoy leaf and steamed to mellow perfection – I kept on gobbling and did not stop till seven. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Shakarkandi and kadoo kebab: A very unusual or rather scary combination – sweet potato and pumpkin prepared into a tender kebab served with tamarind chutney. The kebabs are luscious and the sweetness of sweet potatoes provide a different dimension to these kebabs. RECOMMENDED.

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Bao bhaajhi: The progressive Asian theme of this restaurant blossoms well in the bhaajhi – chopped zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes in a lemon butter compote and served with three different baos – soft and sour steamed ones, baked ones and crispy baked one. RECOMMENDED.

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Black rice with paneer: Yes, Himalayan black rice with sweet corn, broccoli and paneer could be this good and appetizing. The rice is moist and has an adorable chewy texture which is hard to forget. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Thai Green Curry: That a Thai green curry can taste so flavourful even without the fish sauce speaks volumes about the skill of the chef here. The usual spicy and creamy texture is there and those firm vegetables as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Assorted kulfis: These kulfis denote the three prominent flavours of Asia – coffee from Indonesia, lemongrass from Malaysia and paan/betel from India. The usual bitter warm texture can be expected from the coffee kulfi and the palate refreshing flavours from the betel one (raw betel leaves used) but the subtle impression of lemongrass kulfi topped with sesame seeds is the one that will leave you flabbergasted. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Kiara Soul Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bun, bunny chow, chamomile tea, chocolate, chocolate hazelnut bun, coffee bun, delhi, gluttonyguilts, gurgaon, gurgaon restaurants, hazelnut, herbal tea, papparoti, tea, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

Papparoti, DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon

Finally, it is my chance to binge upon the lovely coffee flavoured buns which are crunchy and airy from inside and tender from inside. Papparoti, a global brand, has eventually arrived in India and stolen the heart of many gastronomists.
The world famous buns do take a hell lot of hard work and patience to prepare. The dough is imported from Singapore, fashioned into a specific size, fermented and allowed to rise for five long hours. And as if this was not enough, it takes about an hour to bake this wonderful bakery item.
Nutella Hazelnut Bun: This marriage, the marriage of the patented buns and the Nutella hazelnut flavour, is definitely made in heaven. The way the warmth of Nutella compliments the crunchy exterior and the mellow buttery interior is exemplary! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Mango Custard Bun: The magic of the king of fruits over Indian summers is worth experimenting in every dish. The patented bun is adorned with a thick sweet mango glaze and freshly diced Safeda and Dussehri. These two different flavours clash with each other on your palate sometimes, but you begin to relish the contrast after a few morsels. RECOMMENDED.

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Veg Bunny Chow: Bunny Chow is a humble delicacy from South Africa in which a cubical bread is gouged from inside and the hollowed interior is filled with a curry. At Papparoti, I got the chance to indulge in paav based bunny chow in which a soulful vegetarian bhaajhi filled the insides. Served with a freshly prepared coleslaw and French fries, this dish will compel you to ask for another plate. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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And how better to wash all these down but with a refreshing cuppa of chamomile tea? They have a very fancy tea set with hourglass timers so as to calculate the brewing time of the tea – 2, 3 and 5 minutes.

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PappaRoti Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bakery, Biscuit, Biscuits, cake, cookie, Fruit cake, gluttonyguilts, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, Lucknow, Namkeen, north indian, Uncategorized

Wadhwa Bakers, Alambagh, Lucknow

What would an Indian household’s evening be if there is no item to accompany our freshly brewed tea? Or people like me can imagine a day without having a glass of milk without our favourite cookies to binge upon?
Wadhwa Bakers, the very famous family run bakery house in Lucknow continue to maintain their supremacy in the bakery/savoury circles of the city. Their products are synonymous with quality and freshness and my happiness was out of bounds when I recently received a package of non perishables from their side.
Kashmiri mix Namkeen: The heavenly medley of moong dal namkeen, sev namkeen with crispies and roasted cashewnuts is a perfect accompaniment with your ritualistic cup of tea. The crunchy texture is to die for! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Oats cookies: A crumbly texture awaits you as you bite into these slightly chewy goodies. The only drawback with these are that they disintegrate with the slightest disturbance. RECOMMENDED.

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Sugar free kajoo biscuits: Diabetics and sugar haters, you can enjoy these cashew laden cookies with a soft crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Badaam lachha biscuits: Moderate sweetness with comparable texture to kajoo biscuits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Badaam lachha biscuits: Moderate sweetness with comparable texture to kajoo biscuits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Fruit cake: As if the waft of freshly baked cake was not enough, the smooth outer texture with mellow crumbly insides with embedded bits of tooti-frooti will warm your insides. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Wadhwa Bakers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato